Esther Wren is a modern-day Job figure. A former nun, she left the religious life and married John Wren, a farmer. They had a daughter together and were blissfully happy until Julie, their young child developed cancer. For the next five years, Julie faced her illness with courage, good humour and a knowingness way beyond her years. She died at the age of 8.
Within a few short years, with Esther still reeling from the loss, her husband was diagnosed with cancer. He died after a short illness. Esther inherited his family farm, which she loved, but, after a break-in, she felt it was no longer safe to stay. Instead, she sold it and set up the Julie Wren Childrens Cancer Support Centre, under the auspices of Our Lady's Children's Hospital, Crumlin, to establish a support service for parents who want to care for their children at home in the last stage of their illness. Esther believes passionately in a child's right to die at home surrounded by a loving family and familiar objects. The Julie Wren Childrens Cancer Support Centre will give financial assistance to parents to get the kind of domestic and medical help they need to make this choice.
Esther returned to teaching, but her troubles were far from over, as she herself was diagnosed with cancer. She's still living with it to this day, although recently, after surgery, she was given an all clear. Such a litany of grief and suffering would cause many people to be angry with God, or to lose their faith altogether, but not Esther. She is a woman of deep faith and builds her day around prayer and meditation. She is open to religions and philosophies from East and West.
But most of all she takes inspiration from Julie's life. She remembers that even after a day spent undergoing chemotherapy, Julie danced on the furniture when she returned home.
She remembers her little girl's comments when once she became angry with God for Julie's suffering. "God is in me, he is in you. If you are angry with God, you are angry with me. You should thank God". So, Esther lives a life of thanks; for Julie's short but beautiful life, her happy marriage, her friends and family and the joy that each day brings.
She has learned from her daughter, Julie, to simply embrace and enjoy life -
To live life in the moment.
The centre her mam established in her name, and in memory of Julie’s father Johnnie, is discretionary but is having a hugely positive and powerful effect on the lives and recovery of so many other young citizens through its emphasis on play and other care therapies.
Thank you so much for considering joining Julie and making your own unique and powerful mark.
Julie Wren’s story cannot be described in words. However, the Julie Wren Chilldrens Cancer Support Centre which was set up as her legacy, comes closest to capturing her amazing personality and aura.
Whatever kind of gift you choose to make – once-off, regular or a legacy – we pledge that your vital donation will be put to work effectively.